If you’ve been keeping up with things here on SoccerPrime.com, you’ll already be aware of our latest miniseries documenting some of the lesser-known squad numbers in global soccer.
For a jersey that is usually reserved for a ‘squad’ player in the sense that they will more than likely not be in the starting line-up for a team, plenty of great players have actually chosen to don the number over the years, including a host of top stars from the modern day.
Here are 7 famous soccer players who wear the number 22 jersey.
1. Tom Heaton
He may be getting on a bit now, but English goalkeeper Tom Heaton will be remembered by many fans of the Premier League as one of the safest pairs of hands of his generation.
Now with Manchester United, Heaton is more of a player/coach than anything else as he is essentially the fourth-choice man between the sticks at Old Trafford. Some fans were unhappy when he made the move there, though others believed he deserved one last big paycheque.
It is his time with Burnley that Heaton will be most remembered for though as he was at one point one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League for the clarets.
After honing his craft playing for a wide range of clubs in and outside of England, Heaton signed for Burnley in 2013. He would stay with the clarets for six seasons, playing nearly 200 games for them in the process.
During this time, Heaton became as solid as he has ever been. During the 2009-10 season, Heaton kept the most clean sheets out of any Championship goalkeeper as Burnley was promoted to the Premier League.
Heaton left Burnley in 2019 to sign for Aston Villa before joining Manchester United in 2021 where he was handed the number 22 jersey.
Brazilian winger Raphinha is one of the most skillful players in the world right now and currently wears the number 22 jersey at Barcelona where he features alongside young talents such as Ansu Fati and Gavi (among others).
Barcelona may well be in a time of crisis right now, and due to this, they are struggling to improve the quality of their squad all over the field. This has given chances to players like Raphinha who may not have otherwise been on the team.
Raphinha began his career with Avai in the Brazilian Premier League, though after failing to make it into the first team he moved to Europe with Vitoria Guimaraes and later Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
After a short spell with Rennes in Ligue 1, the Premier League awaited the Brazilian as he signed for Leeds United.
It was with Leeds that Raphinha caught the eye as he performed admirably in both of his seasons with the Yorkshire-based club. Despite only playing 65 times for Leeds he became a fan favorite before his move to Barcelona in 2022.
3. Angel Di Maria
It is perhaps fair to say that Argentinian winger Angel Di Maria has been one of the most outspoken and possibly controversial figures in the world of soccer over the course of his career, though it has been a career filled with success for Juventus’ number 22.
Di Maria was born in Rosario, the same city as his international captain Lionel Messi. The winger starred for his hometown club for two seasons in the mid-2000s before moving to Europe with Benfica in 2007.
After being hailed as one of Argentina’s most promising talents by a range of onlookers, Di Maria lived up to the hype by signing for Real Madrid in 2010.
It was in Madrid that Di Maria became a star, winning countless trophies while with Los Blancos. After making over 100 appearances for Real, new stars began to replace him in the starting line-up at the Bernabeu and a move to Manchester United followed.
It was a torrid time in England by all accounts for Di Maria as he was robbed and abused by those that believed his attitude towards the game was somewhat lacking enthusiasm.
Since then, Di Maria has featured for PSG and Juventus as he re-established himself on the global stage. He also scored the winning goal in Argentina’s Copa America triumph in 2021.
4. Hakim Ziyech
It may be slightly unfair to say that Morocco winger Hakim Ziyech was one of the real breakout stars of the recent World Cup as he has been knocking around the top level of global soccer for some time now, albeit sat on the bench for Chelsea as of late.
His influential performances were one of the key factors in Morocco becoming the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final in Qatar.
As for his club career, Ziyech currently wears the number 22 jersey for Premier League side Chelsea and is not enjoying a great time of things in west London despite once being a major signing for the blues.
It was in the Netherlands that Ziyech became the player he is today, starring for Heerenveen and FC Twente before a major move to Ajax in 2016.
The Moroccan was one of the leading lights in Ajax rediscovering their continental might as they reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019 only to be eliminated by an incredible Tottenham comeback.
Despite being on the fringes of the Chelsea team these days, Ziyech did play a part in their Champions League winning campaign in 2021.
5. Pablo Mari
The next player on our list is a central defender that has spent much of his career away from the clubs he is actually contracted to due to various loan spells around the world.
Pablo Mari is the current number 22 at Arsenal; however, currently finds himself out on loan with Italian side Monza due to him falling down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium.
The Spaniard was once one of the most promising defenders in his country. Having enjoyed a successful youth career with Mallorca, he moved to Gimnastic de Tarragona and later Manchester City (though in his three-year stay with the citizens he never once played for them). Mari’s entire time in Manchester was actually spent away from the city.
After finally calling time on his spell with Manchester City, Mari moved to Brazil in order to find first-team soccer.
Playing for the famous Flamengo side, Mari somewhat rediscovered his form before being loaned to Arsenal in 2020. The Gunners later made the move a permanent one, with Mari appearing 12 times for the club since his move there.
6. Jude Bellingham
One of the brightest young stars of this generation, English midfielder Jude Bellingham wears the number 22 for both his club and country at the moment.
Bellingham is already being hailed as one of the finest midfielders in the world despite being only 19 years of age. He has also been linked with a move to almost every big club in Europe recently but for now, remains with German side Borussia Dortmund.
Bellingham began his fledgling in his home city just a few years ago, turning out for Birmingham City in the Championship just a handful of times before being scouted by Dortmund.
Upon signing for the German side, Birmingham actually decided to retire the number 22 jersey that he had worn for the club. This was seen as a bizarre move by many fans given the young age of Bellingham (and still is considered strange by most English fans).
Once at Dortmund there was no stopping the meteoric rise of Bellingham. He flourished at his new club and was soon a regular starter in both the Bundesliga and Champions League.
Soon enough an England call-up came his way, a chance that Bellingham grasped firmly with him now being one of the first players on the team sheet for his country.
7. Henrikh Mkhitaryan
One of those players that once promised so much, Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan has played for some of the biggest teams on the planet and has also been part of some very big transfers over the years.
Mkhitaryan was born in the Soviet Union, long before Armenia gained its independence, and became a soccer player to follow in his sadly deceased father’s footsteps.
Mkhitaryan did just that, breaking through in the Armenian and later Ukrainian first division’s before securing a major move to Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
The Armenian quickly became an integral part of the German club’s side, winning a handful of domestic honors and scoring 23 goals over the course of six years with Dortmund.
Eventually, the Premier League came calling, with a move to Manchester United in 2016. It was a good spell for Mkhitaryan at Old Trafford, but when Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez became available, he was traded for the Chilean winger.
Following this move, Mkhitaryan’s career has stuttered; a disappointing time in north London led to him leaving England in favor of Roma before another transfer handed him the number 22 jersey at Inter Milan.
Hopefully, this piece has helped familiarise you with just 7 of the world’s most prominent wearers of the number 22 jersey, we’ll be back with another number very soon.